It is strange indeed that we Christians seldom talk about the thing Jesus talked about most. That, of course, is the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, as it is also called. John the Baptist announced this kingdom in Matthew 3:1-2. Jesus later came into Galilee proclaiming it (Mk. 1:15). Much of Jesus’ teaching dealt with the Kingdom of God, and most all of his parables pictured it (Mk. 4:30-33). The message of the kingdom was still the message of Jesus after his resurrection (Acts 1:3). It was also the message of the early apostles (Acts 8:12; 19:8).
In Matthew 24:14, Jesus makes plain that the gospel of the kingdom will again be preached to the whole world in the days just preceding the end of the age. Apparently we have lost this aspect of the gospel in our modern church. We might well wonder if it is the absence of this gospel that is causing such difficulty, failure and discouragement in much of the today’s Christian world.
Jesus expects his servants to exercise his authority and influence. In short, he expects them to be priests and kings on his behalf. In 1 Peter 2:9 we read: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
A DESPERATELY NEEDED MESSAGE
How desperately this message of the kingdom is needed today! We live in a time when multiplied millions of people are overcome and ruled by wicked spirits and by the earthly things around them. Unfortunately, it seems that many of these are Christians.
God’s plan is that man through Christ should exercise rule and authority over the earth and everything in it (Gen. 1:26, 28). Of course, the devil is greatly opposed to this plan and tries to frustrate it in every conceivable way. For instance, we all probably know Christians who are ruled by a little weed called tobacco; or by the grape, which is turned into wine; or by the poppy flower and the marijuana plant which are made into hallucinogenic drugs. There are hundreds of other earthly things that can rule over us.
Proverbs 25:28 tells us: “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls” (NKJV). This seems to be the lot of so many today. The Bible tells us that we absolutely must learn to rule with Christ and exercise his authority over the earthly things around us. It is high time for the church to take seriously the teaching of the Kingdom of God and how this kingdom can be worked out in our everyday lives.
REIGNING WITH CHRIST
As we have seen, in the beginning of the ages God created man and decreed that man would rule over all his creation. The devil, that ancient adversary, began immediately to work against this divine plan. Through his sorcery he beguiled Adam and Eve and they fell from their God-given position. Since that time, there has been a reversal of God’s plan, with the world and creation often ruling over humankind as we have seen. This dismal situation went on century after century until God’s solution was provided. At last, in the fullness of time, the Lord sent his Messiah to deal decisively with this problem. We Christians do not always realize it but Jesus came to reverse the effects of the fall and to lift fallen humanity once again to the place God intended.
That is what the Kingdom of God is all about. It is God calling, saving and sanctifying a people who will rule on his behalf, just as he planned. Of course, all this is only possible through Jesus and our belief in him. He came to the earth as the model man. He was not defeated by Satan and by all the latter’s tactics. In his great temptation in the wilderness, Jesus did not heed the devil’s suggestions for a moment but he skillfully used the word of God as a weapon against this deceiver (Matt. 4:1-11). In all his life as a man, living in this defiled earth, Jesus never sinned once (Heb. 4:15). Still on our behalf he suffered the death of the ungodly, and for our salvation he was gloriously raised by the power of God. Now Jesus sits at the right hand of God to intercede and help fallen humanity. As he lives in us through his Holy Spirit and as we live in him, we too can now taste the victory over Satan in our everyday lives.
So we see that it is God’s purpose for Satan’s work to be defeated and reversed. It is God’s purpose that we Christians should now rule for him in our everyday lives. This is what Christianity is supposed to be about. In Romans 5:17 we read: “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” So we see that our calling is to reign through Jesus and exercise his authority and influence everywhere.
OVERCOMERS AND THE END DAY
We saw earlier how that in the last days of history the gospel of the Kingdom will be rediscovered and preached once more. This is very obvious in the Book of Revelation, for it is a book about reigning with Christ; about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is really the major theme of Revelation, so we can see that the book is very faithful to the teaching of Jesus. In fact, the Bible would not be complete without Revelation.
It is obvious in the last days of human history, as the devil’s final attack upon humanity begins, God will have some overcomers. These overcomers will reign with Christ upon this earth. The Book of Revelation tells us a great deal about them. It tells us that many of these saints will give themselves in martyrdom for his cause, rather than deny him or fail him (Rev. 6:9).
It tells us that these overcomers will be made up of the faithful remnant of Christianity and Judaism (Rev. 7:4-10, 14; 14:1-2). They will indeed be the “new man” that God has created out of the two (Eph. 2:14-17; 3:6). We learn that they will be sealed in their foreheads with the name of God and of Jesus (Rev. 14:1). We learn that they will “…obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” We see also that they will follow the Lamb wherever he goes; that there will be no guile found in their mouths; and that they will be totally pure and undefiled (Rev. 14:4-5).
Finally we see this group of overcomers standing on Mt. Zion with the Messiah. They appear ready to fight with him against the devil and all the forces of evil in this depraved world. Indeed it is said of them in Revelation 12:11: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” The reward for these faithful ones is that they will reign upon this earth with Christ and even sit upon his throne with him (Rev. 3:21).
It is truly amazing that God allows fallen man to rise to such heights in Christ. Yet there is surely much more about this that we do not understand. In 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 we read: “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”
Revelation, that final book of the Bible, tells us how it will all end. It tells us that Satan, his workers and his work will all be destroyed. The evil that he has done in man and in the earth will be reversed and healed. Revelation echoes the words of Psalm 91:13, in telling us that man in Christ will “…tread upon the lion and the cobra…” that he “… will trample the great lion and the serpent.” Indeed Paul speaks prophetically about this on one occasion to the Christians in Rome: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet…” (Rom. 16:20).
In the past, some have taken many of these important verses and have gone into heresy with them by overly magnifying man. We must remember that all this is no credit to man whatsoever, but only to Jesus who has himself gained the victory and by his grace has chosen to share that victory with humankind
So often, heresy contains a grain of biblical truth. Unfortunately, the heretics take this grain of biblical truth to the extreme, ignoring most other biblical truths. We want to hold fast to these Bible gems but we also want to keep these truths in balance with the rest of scripture. Someone once said, “If the devil can’t stop us, he will take us too far.”
We also must be ever careful to guard our hearts against pride. It is Jesus alone who has worked this wonderful salvation for us. All praise and glory belong to him. If Jesus gives us a crown on that last day, there is only one place for it to go. It must go at the feet of our Lord and Savior (Rev. 4:10). He alone is worthy.
The Book of Revelation ends with renewed and victorious man in a renewed earth and garden. It ends with the Kingdom of God finally coming to earth and with the tree of life being restored. The darkness of Satan will then be gone forever. It is said of God’s chosen ones in Revelation 22:5: “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
– Jim Gerrish
Publication date, December, 2003.